A Better Approach to Writing a Cover Letter

With an ‘ideas-first’ cover letter, you’re showcasing not just what you have done, but what you will do

Robert Gibb
Published in
4 min readNov 1, 2019


Credit: Carlina Teteris/Getty

TTwo years ago, I was deep into the slog of searching for a full-time job. I’d applied to dozens of positions I knew I was qualified for, and been ghosted for pretty much all of them.

Eventually, I reached a breaking point: Clearly, whatever I was doing wasn’t working. It was time to try something different.

So for the next job I applied for — a growth marketing position at a neighborhood-focused startup — I decided to skip the standard five-paragraph cover letter boasting about my skills and accomplishments (“Since getting my degree in creative writing in 2011, I’ve grown dozens of businesses with content marketing, SEO, and other forms of inbound marketing, blah blah blah.”) Instead, I wrote something that could be immediately valuable to the hiring manager: an ideas-first cover letter.

Here’s a slightly tweaked version of what it looked like, with a few details removed:

“Hey Austin — I love what you’re doing at [company name]!!

Before telling you about my skills and experience, I’d like to share some growth ideas with you. This will give you a taste of how I think about growth.

Create an affiliate program. Partner with real estate lawyers who deal with HOA. From what I can tell, these are the people with the most direct link to HOA presidents and other HOA decision makers. We can the GrowSumo software to streamline the program.

Monitor the web for conversations we can contribute to. For instance, find people asking questions like this and talking about stuff like this using Buzzsumo. Let them know about our service, or just say what’s up and offer help depending on what they’re talking about.

Create a live demo of product. This is for people further down the funnel. Let them test out the product through a web app. Get them engaged and see how cool it is. Have a CTA within the demo to create an account.

These are the ideas that first came to mind. They may not be ‘the answer,’ but are worth considering. There’s a big growth opportunity here and I know…



Robert Gibb
Writer for

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